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November 29, 2005

Gift from Chicago

What I want to know is what kind of demented sadists schedule an important business matter on the Monday after Thanksgiving so that participants are required to travel on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, one of the worst travel days of the year? No one at my end, anyway.

So, you see, I had to travel to Chicago yesterday and return today. I had the pleasure, by the way, of staying in a hotel occupied by a convention of scientists, and you know what party animals they are. Drunken competitions in the hallways at 3 a.m. to see who can ignite the largest explosions.

But I got one thing out of the trip: a complimentary copy of the Chicago Tribune, in which I found an interesting column by Dawn Turner Trice (registration possibly required).

I love this. A gazillion terrorist attacks against Americans are committed by young Muslim men from certain countries, and one by Timothy McVeigh, but let's not jump to any conclusions.

To a guy like U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), profiling--attempting to sort out criminals and non-criminals based on racial, ethnic or age considerations--seems to be a perfectly reasonable and efficient tool in "the war on terror."

I suppose Kirk sees it this way: Why should we inconvenience most Americans, or infringe on their rights, when we already know that the next "terrorist" in America will be a young Arab male?

Earlier this month, Kirk was speaking at a technology conference at Northwestern University when he said he was OK with discriminating against young Arab males from terrorist-producing countries as long as it means keeping America safe.

Kirk has continued to stand by his comments despite Arab-American groups pressing him to apologize.

The scary truth is that many Americans feel this same way.
You mean, you're not staying up at night worrying about the feelings of "young Arab males from terrorist-producing countries," like Mohammed Atta? Trice sure is:
Advocating racial profiling isn't just an incendiary issue; it simply doesn't make sense. If you say it's OK to discriminate against some Muslims trying to enter the country, then how long before American Muslims would see their rights whittled away?

And who would determine how far the discrimination would go? Would it be OK to hold a person in a prison camp without charges for a few years?
And pretty soon we're living in a fascist country -- if we aren't already.

Trice goes on to mention Timothy McVeigh and the University of Oklahoma bomber, neither of whom, so far as we know, was a young Muslim man. OK, as far as that goes.

It's terminally naive, however, to think that some domestic nut-jobs are really the threat, as Trice argues:
While we wait for the Al Qaeda hammer to fall, homegrown radical right-wing extremism continues to be dismissed. The fact is, extremists are already on our soil, hunkered down amid their mini-arsenals.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the mantra has been that we need to stop "them" over there so we don't have to fight "them" over here. Well, guess what? "They" are already here, and they are us.
Here's my question: Let's assume she's right. Let's assume some domestic nut-jobs are the real terrorists we should worry about. Why, then, do elderly black men and white toddlers get pulled aside for special scrutiny at the airports? Do we all have to suffer so that not only "young Arab males from terrorist-producing countries" but also domestic nut-jobs won't be singled out?